Talking with and connecting to other divorcing women has become my mission. I'm in the process of my second divorce and I see that the same isolation, loneliness, and judgment exists for divorced and single moms as it did 15 years ago, during my first divorce. Nothing has progressed. There still seems to be a great deal of stigma surrounding divorce and the subject remains taboo in most social circles. I found this tip in a divorce book: "What happens in a marriage is private -- what happens in a divorce should remain private as well."
The legal process shreds families and is not always fair and just as one would assume. The emotional upheaval is a day-to-day roller coaster. Divorce is a monumental life experience much like a marriage, birth or death. Not talking about it seems unhealthy, so I'd like to start the conversation by launching Divorcehood.
Divorcehood is an empowering place to share stories, compare notes, ask questions, and more than anything, make connections. I partnered with Storey Jones, a divorce consultant and owner of Lemon Tree Advisors, to launch this community. Our goal is to give support to women who are on the divorce journey by offering them a place to share their experiences as well as to gain specific strategic and tactical tools to help navigate the day-to-day trenches of divorce.
As we've reached out and talked to divorced women across the country, we've seen some common issues emerge. We recently complied a list of what we discovered to be the five most common regrets of the divorced. Do any of these apply to you?
1. Giving Up A Career
Many women face a choice when they have children: off-ramp your career and become a full-time mom or stay on the career highway. When the marriage works, no one thinks twice about putting a career on hold in order to stay home with children. When the marriage fails, the stay-at-home moms say the same thing: "I should have never given up my career." For many women, going back to their old career is proving to be more difficult than it sounds.
2. Not Being Financially Involved
Whether or not the wife works, a lot of households still follow a traditional division of labor with the husband serving as the CFO for the family and the wife doing everything else. When the marriage fails, many women realize they do not have a clue about any family financial accounts and do not even know how to begin to find passwords or account records.
3. Putting Up With Poor Treatment; Not Speaking Up
We asked women about how they felt they were treated in their marriage. We've heard stories about missed birthdays or anniversaries, expectations for clean houses, hot meals, and well mannered kids, demands for sex, and requests for daily-ironed shirts. (I know, it's 2012.) Many women agree that we put ourselves second for the benefit of the family... not as a martyr but with an eye on a greater goal. After a divorce, one common question always comes up: If I would have spoken up or expected more for myself during the marriage, I wonder if things would have turned out differently?
4. Staying For The Kids
This is a huge unanswered question for many married women: When the relationship falls apart, do we stay for the kids? We talked to one woman who decided to stay in a bad marriage until her youngest son left for college. The month after her son left, she left her husband. The son dropped out of college a few months later as he had no clue about marriage problems between his parents. She told us her son isn't speaking to either parent since he can't figure out whom to trust or what part of his childhood he can believe in. She said she regrets not leaving earlier as she knew she was not going to continue to put up with her husband's infidelities forever. She didn't anticipate her son would view her attempt to keep the family together as living a lie.
5. Marrying For The Wrong Reasons
The biggest reason for divorce continues to be... marriage. We need to do a better job about educating our children as to what marriage is and how it works. There are too many Hollywood movies and happily-ever-after fairy tales that make marriage look simple: fall in love, get married, have some kids, live a long and happy life together.
What do successfully married women say about their marriages? We are partners; we are building a family with common goals and dreams; we are friends; we work hard everyday at our relationship; we have each other's backs; we have bad days, months, even years, but we are committed to our family more than our own individual needs.
Some divorced women have admitted to us that they married for financial stability, parental expectations, or even because they thought it was what they were supposed to do at the time. They didn't marry for love and friendship, and they now understand that they set themselves up for failure.